Still digesting it all, slowly, but I can offer some quickies. Longer lasting impressions might follow at some point.
– Yes, Death Knights are cool.
– Some folks are complaining about itemization. This ain’t like Burning Crusade, where the greens you got in Hellfire were better than your epics from Naxx. From what I gather, 71-75 items are only slightly better, and in the vast majority of cases only sidegrades, assuming your character did a minimum of Karazhan, Magister’s Terrace or Outland instances. Blizzard smoothed out at least the first half of your Northrend journey in terms of gear. This has heavy raiders from BC slightly miffed, and it’s naturally bad news for them. However, it’s great news for…
– People who didn’t get to raid at all in BC, or… wait for it… wait for it…. people who rolled Death Knights, headed to Outland straight away and blazed to 68 riding on quest reward gear only (which is perfectly doable). By the time those lvl68 Death Knights set foot in Northrend, everyone else’s ‘sidegrades’ are actually huge upgrades for them. Blizzard can be shrewd like that sometimes.
– The Nexus is hands down one of the best-looking instances I’ve seen in years, and Utgarde Keep holds its own as well. It seems they really raised the bar for this one, visually at least.
– Just to be fair and balanced, I glanced at my wife playing in Azjol Nerub for all of 20 seconds and didn’t find it very aesthetically appealing at all. But I cannot judge from a 20 second glance. We’ll see. I have high hopes for Uldum, personally.
– If you’re about to head into Northrend, you really, really, really wanna take your time and take the boat from Menethil instead of the one from Stormwind. The one from Stormwind leaves you in Borean Tundra. The one from Menethil, in the Howling Fjord. Why? How do I wanna put it…
Borean Tundra: Pasta.
Howling Fjord: Pasta with a freshly made tomato, basil and mushroom soft sauce, topped with freshly-grated parmesan cheese. Served just at the right temperature, by a 10th generation family chef from Tuscany, who made the whole dish right before your eyes while you sipped the season’s red wine, in a delightful summer sunset, on the terrace at his private villa. Then his daughter appears, and she’s none other than Isabella Rossellini. She sits next to you, takes a sip of wine from your glass and smiles at you, saying how much she loves men who play MMOs, and how virile they seem.
It’s about that level of difference in the experience, give or take the beautiful female. It’s like they dropped the Northrend map and it hit the floor on the Borean Tundra side when it was young.
– All quest gear, depending on class and gear type, apparently shares the same bland models (well detailed bland models, though), and you’ll come across a lot of recolors. Bad mojo. I don’t know if this is intentional and the good looking gear is only found in instances or later on, or if there’s an upcoming patch to introduce some variety. Dunno. But it is a serious turn off.
More to follow at some point. Overall verdict so far (very early on): Thumbs up, with some reservations.